Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Witch of Portobello

I started reading this Novel on my way back from Muscat 2 weeks back.
It was an interesting novel and presented subtle ideas through the mysterious personality of Athena (A Romanian Gypsy adopted by a Lebanese family) Athena was given the name Sherine Khalil by her family.

The rather unusual personality and attitude of Athena (Sherine) coupled with profound philosophy by the author makes the novel attractive (at the beginning). Later on, things do not sustain the excitement level, as i felt that the events become mundane with some redundancy to an extent that i am no longer attracted to the novel, but yet determined to finish it.

Some excerpts from the novel

"Everyone is looking for the perfect teacher, but although their teachings might be divine, teachers are all too human, and that's something people find hard to accept. Don't confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter of the symbol with the symbol itself. Tradition is linked to our encounter with the forces of life and not with the people who bring this about. But we are weak: we ask the Mother to send us guides, and all she sends are signs to the road we need to follow.
Pity those who seek for shepherds, instead of longing for freedom! An encounter with the superior energy is open to anyone but remains far from those who shift responsibility onto others. Our time on this earth is sacred, and we should celebrate every moment"

It is paragraphs like these that really made me enjoy the novel. However, the style started strong at the beginning, but starting fading away as you flip on pages

Another nicely depicted dramatic situation is clear in page 41, when Sherine Ex-husbands asked her shy she reacted so calmly when he told her that he wanted a divorce, she said
“Because all my life, I ‘ve learned to suffer in silence”. This might not what really what people do in reality, but this philosophy is shared with other writers, for example, The Syrian poet Nizar Qabani expressed something within the same lines explaining to his beloved that his silence does not necessarily convey a message of carelessness. The poem is called إلى تلميذة قُلْ لي- و لو كَذباً- كلاماً ناعماً قد كاد َ يقتلني بكَ التمثالُ...

الى ان يقول
إن الحروفَ تموت حينَ تقالُ
ومن ثم

لا تجرحي التمثالَ في إحساسه فلكم بكى في صمته... تمثالُ

Below is the entire poem
الى تلميذه........ رائعة..لشاعر نزار قباني
قُل لي –ولو كذباً – كلما ناعماً قد كادَ يقتلني بكَ التمثالُ
مازلتِ في فن المحبّة .. طفلةً بيني وبينكِ أبحرٌ وجبالُ
لم تستطيعي – بعدُ – أن تتفهمي أن الرجال جميعهم .. أطفالُ
إني لأرفض أن اكون مهرجاً قزماً .. على كلماتة يحتالُ
فإذا وقفت أمام حسنك صامتاً فالصمتُ في حرم الجمال.. جمال
كلماتنا في الحب .. تقتل حبنا إن الحروف تموت حين تقالُ
قصص الهوى قد أفسدتك فكلها غيبوبةٌ .. وخرافةٌ .. وخيالُ
الحب ليس روايةً شرقيةً بختامها يتزوج الأبطالُ
لكنةُ الإبحارُ دون سفينة وشعورنا أن الوصول محالُ
هو أن تظل على الأصابع رعشةٌ وعلى الشفاة المطبقات سؤالُ
هو جدولُ الأحزان في أعماقنا تنمو كروم حولة وغلالُ
هو هذه الأزمات تسحقنا معاً فنموت نحنُ .. وتزهر الآمالُ
أن نثور لأيّ شيءٍ تافةٍ هو يأسُنا .. هو شكنا القتالُ
هو هذه الكف التي تغتالنا ونقبل الكفَّ التي تغتال
لاتجرحي التمثالَ في إحساسة فلكم بكى في صمته .. تمثال
قد يطلع الحجر الصغير براعماً وتسيل منه جدالٌ وظلالُ
إني أُحبكِ.. من خلال كابتي حسبي وحسبك
.. أن تظلّي دائماً سرّاً يمزقني .. وليس يقالُ..

Anyway, i still have another 100 pages to go#


The Observer said...

I am a big fan of Paulo Coelho, and I felt that the witch of portobello is the best work for him so far. I enjoyed reading it till the end, and unlike you, I felt more excited in the last pages with the rise of the crowd against Athena and her teachings and the way she handled it.

I just love were Paulo takes us when he writes. He is an amazing writer.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book of Paulo, what's so amazing about this book in my point of view, is that sometimes you just feel that you read about yourself. Everyone will find something that speaks to their inner self, because we all got that inner light at the end. It's such a great book !


Anonymous said...


So!did u copy the poem ,or u memorise it?

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